Victoria Tan – Student of the Month July

Victoria Tan, originally from Quezon City, Manila, in the Philippines, began cooking when she was 7 years old with her grandmother as her “little helper”. “Cooking bonded my family, and we always sat at the table together to eat meals. We were constantly cooking traditional Filipino food at home.” Victoria has lived in Gilbert most of her life, but her Filipino roots remained prevalent in the valley. “I would make Filipino-style barbecue for my family at our parties, and my family used to tease me that I needed to open a restaurant called ‘Vicky’s Barbeque’.”

Although Victoria had a love for cooking, she did not immediately go to culinary school. “In 2014, I had finished my Associate’s Degree from Mesa Community College and my prerequisites to apply for nursing school. I felt that I was pursuing something that I never loved, so I took a year off from school and researched other fields I could do. It was my boss at the time that saw I had an interest in baking and told me to pursue culinary arts.” Victoria chose ACI because it offers a diploma in both Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastries.

Victoria’s favorite classes have been Basics I and II, as well as Advanced Baking. “While I was in Basics with Chef Wolf, he made me want to learn more about food. In Advanced Baking I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I made things that I didn’t think I could do.” Her biggest challenge so far has been staying in school while working full-time. “I have a strong support system that helps me whenever I need it. My job helps me a lot by working with my schedule and giving me the time to volunteer and be a part of the Molecular Gastronomy Club in ACI.”

When Victoria is not at school she is working full-time at a physical rehabilitation center in Chandler. She also enjoys hanging out with her friends and catching Pokémon together. Her goal is to work at one of the best restaurants in the world in order to learn from them. “In five years I would like to be a chef in a well-known restaurant and travel around the world to experience different cultures and foods.” Her advice to aspiring chefs is to “have fun with it, and create things you are proud of. Stay true to yourself.”